Beef Cattle Foot Rot

Cattle Foot Rot is also called infectious pododermatitis, foul claw, or hoof rot, is an acute or chronic infection of cattle characterized by lameness, swelling, and inflammation of the skin of the coronary band and the skin between the claws. The disease is seen most commonly in feedlot cattle but may also occur in cows, calves, and bulls on pasture. Occasionally, an outbreak affecting 80-90% of the cattle in a feedlot will occur. The disease causes economic loss by reduced body weight, delayed gain, labor, and cost of treatment. Bulls which are affected with foot rot often will not breed because of pain in the affected foot.

Foot rot is caused, at least in part, by a bacterium known as Fusiformis necrophorus. Trauma and irritations caused by small stones, frozen ground, mud, urine, and manure predispose cattle to this infection. Because of occasional explosive outbreaks in feedlots involving a high percentage of the cattle, it is felt that a virus or other primary cause such a laminitis may trigger the infection. The disease is seen most commonly in winter and spring months when mud, urine, and manure are the greatest problem, although it is also seen in warm, dry summer months.

Prevention and Treatment
Clean, well drained lots are important in the prevention of foot rot. Areas around feeders and waterers should be paved and well drained. Liberal use of slaked lime in these areas is helpful. Five to ten percent copper sulfate foot baths in areas where cattle must walk may be helpful. In severe outbreaks, feeding one mg. of Aureomycin per lb. body weight per head per day for seven days followed by one half this dosage for another seven days is useful. Use of Ethylene Diamine Dihydroiodide (EDDI), a tamed iodine, at the rate of 50 mg. per head-per day is often used as a preventive measure.

     Early treatment of affected cases is very important. In untreated cases, the infection often invades the coffin and pastern joint, resulting in severe chronic lameness and poor feedlot performance. When this occurs, surgical removal of one entire claw is usually necessary.

     Penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracyclines are used to treat foot rot. Many veterinarians prefer the intravenous use of one grain per lb. body weight of sulfapyridine in severe cases. The animals may be treated the second and third day at one half this dosage. This drug cannot be given as an intramuscular injection.